The latest edition of major international photography festival Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal tackles the high-tech and contentious issue of the camera taking on a life of its own, especially when it comes to drone photography. British curator Paul Wombell directs the 13th edition of the biennale, September 5–October 5, under the theme of Drone: The Automated Image, featuring 25 though-provoking shows at 14 sites around the city…
As always, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal balances beautiful images with intellectual interrogation, highlighting work from local, national and international artists with an interest in how photography can both realistically represent and significantly alter the world around us. Curator Wombell asked artists to present work that explores our human relationship with camera technology and how the camera might have an intelligence of its own that we can learn from. In the case of the airborne drone, the camera appears to take pictures on its own, far away from a human body, seeing much further than the human eye and able to travel to locations that are either dangerous or inaccessible to most people. The festival sets out to show similarities between cameras and drones, how common robot-like cameras have become in our lives (in webcams, closed-circuit TV, Google street view, and so on), and how pervasive their images are.
Despite theme of drones and robot-like intelligence, the human element is very much alive and well at Le Mois de la Photo, addressed by all artists in the exhibition. Among the many great exhibitions, see: United Kingdom artist Mishka Henner’s aerial views of Montreal; Quebec photographer Michel Campeau’s Industrial Splendour and Fetishism: The Bruce Anderson Collection, which features photos of cameras from a private collection; Finnish artist Elina Brotherus’s video and photography work on the subject of self-portraiture, emotion and environment; the work of Canadian photographer Véronique Ducharme, which asks if animals in the wild can take their own pictures; “photo machine” photography by Japan’s Tomoko Sawada, who appears in multiple costumes that change her physical appearance; Cheryl Sourkes’s images from webcams and social media sites; Canadian-Czech artist Jana Sterbak’s work on themes of power, control and the human body, including a video series shot by a Jack Russell terrier, questioning the human view of the world; Donovan Wylie’s view of the closed Maze prison in Northern Ireland, with photographs shot over six years.
Along with exhibitions at galleries and other sites around town, including an outdoor collaboration with art collective Make Art Public, situated near the Monk metro station in the Ville-Émard neighbourhood, Le Mois de la Photo hosts events (such as a screening of Micheal Snow’s La Région Centrale) and talks. The festival launches with a free party on September 5 at the Darling Foundry gallery, in the historic neighbourhood of Griffintown, and curator Paul Wombell and a number of photographers giving talks throughout the month.
Coinciding with Le Mois de la Photo is the internationally-touring World Press Photo exhibition, September 4-29 at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal, showcasing photojournalism images from around the world that capture newsworthy stories of politics, culture and everyday life.
Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, September 5–October 5, 2013
World Press Photo, September 4–29, 2013